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London's lively markets are a fun way to experience an authentic taste of the city. With something for every shopper, grab fresh ingredients for dinner or go in search of historical treasures.
“Roll up, roll up! Daffs for a quid, roses three for two!” In London, the traditional sounds, sights and smells of working markets still exist. To get lost, to inhale the heavenly scent of fresh cut flowers and sizzling food, to trip along the cobblestones, to taste homemade English pies and cakes and to scout for bargains – this is the life. If you’re on the lookout for antique treasures, the perfect vintage little black dress or fresh ingredients for cooking at home, the city’s bustling markets are truly a great way to experience the real London.
Like London itself, you’ll find that the markets here offer up a unique blend of history and modern life. Many of London’s most beloved markets have operated in the same spot for centuries and are a point of local pride, attracting visitors of all ages and walks of life. If you thought London was just royal palaces and high street shopping (although those are fabulous, too!), then it’s time to explore London’s vibrant, delicious and fabulous markets.
If the name of this road makes you want to sing, then you’ve probably seen the kid’s film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Nestled in beautiful Notting Hill, this is a glorious part of London to explore. Head here on any given Saturday to rummage through the trays of old watches, buttons and brooches to score the perfect vintage souvenir. It’s also a great place to pick up a hot cup of coffee and enjoy a blissful morning ramble. Look out for the lovely stamp stall, selling postage from all ages and countries. You will also find fresh fruit and vegetables, second-hand clothes, furniture, and plenty of adorable places to pick up tasty street food while you wander. For a proper sit down meal, try heading off the main drag to one of the local cafés on nearby Ledbury Road or Westbourne Grove – two shopping streets you won’t want miss in Notting Hill! You might even spot the famous Travel Bookshop, now the Notting Hill Bookshop, where Hugh Grant’s character worked in the film Notting Hill.
Situated right in the heart of London, this market is a busy one! To avoid the crowds, try stopping by on a weekday or in the morning. Originally a fruit and vegetable market, today Covent Garden is primarily home to established shops, although there are still some quirky boutiques to be found such as Eric Snook’s Toy Shop. For more crafty items, try the Jubilee Market across the cobbles or explore the host of quality shops surrounding the market. Outside the market building expect plenty of busking singers, mime artists, and vendors of cheap tat. Anyone up for a birdie whistle or a bag of sugar-coated peanuts?
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver exalts the virtues of Borough Market for “proper, lovely grub,” all the while urging people to visit. Today Jamie can rest easy - Borough Market is buzzing! Stuffed to the rafters with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meats and cheeses by the wheel, this is a great place to shop for high quality fresh ingredients. Many of the traditional sellers here still loudly hawk their wares just as they would have centuries ago. Nibble on a whole host of delicious foods, including fresh halloumi burgers, raclette sourdoughs, colorful paellas, lemongrass juices, sticky pastries, fine local chocolates and much, much more. There are also wine shops selling Europe’s best alongside generous samples of English fizz. Take a seat indoors or sit outside on the grounds of Southwark Cathedral to watch the world bustle on by.
If whipping up home cooked meals and eating local is high on your priority list for London, then you’ll need to check out one of the city’s fabulous farmers’ markets. Scattered across the UK capital, shop for fresh produce, gourmet English cheeses and meat from local farms. Most markets also offer a selection of hot food and takeaway cuisine.
Nestled in London’s bustling East End, come to Columbia Road for freshly cut flowers sure to brighten up your London Perfect vacation rental. Arrive early for the best choice of blooms, but stay late for the amazing atmosphere. From traders shouting and engaging in a bit of banter, to eclectic music and food stalls, Columbia Road evokes scenes of a bygone era. Expect good coffee, great food and plenty of stylish locals looking to add a colorful flourish of flowers to their homes.
Famous for its vintage clothes, t-shirts and alternative fashion, definitely head here if you have teenagers and let them roam around for a few good hours. Trust us, they will thank you. For older audiences, Camden Markets also holds a treasure trove of antiques, furniture, curiosities, and second hand books. A few decades back, Camden attracted members of London’s punk rock scene, but these days the market welcomes visitors of all ages and musical preferences.
Once home to fresh fruit and vegetables hawkers, this market has undergone a bit of a trendy transformation. Plastic bags are banned and the market now heaves with luxury patisseries, organic loaves and high quality cheese, meat and fish. There is also vintage clothing to peruse and the market is lined by independent boutiques galore, so this could be the perfect place to pick up a trinket to take home. Some great restaurants sit adjacent to Broadway, including a lovely gastropub called The Dove.
In 1983, singer Eddy Grant immortalized Electric Avenue in his hit single of the same name. The first street in the UK to be electrically lit, Electric Avenue is part of lively Brixton Market, which also includes several indoor market arcades selling fresh fish, fruit and vegetables and produce originating from the Caribbean and Africa. There are also stalls selling everything from kitchenware and clothes to furniture and street food. Feast on flavours such as Caribbean, French, Thai or Italian cuisine, and do remember to stop off at the much admired, very tasty, Franca Manca pizzeria.
From Monday to Saturday people flock to Brick Lane for its famous curry houses. On Sundays though, before the restaurants get going, a selection of stalls and rugs are flung out on the cobbled pavements featuring all manner of trash and treasure for the taking. Pick up retro furniture, a vintage leather jacket, a bucketful of fresh baby aubergines for a pound or mountain of spiced rice from the sizzling woks at the center of the market. Expect to touch elbows with artsy student types, as well as creative professionals and local people from all backgrounds.
Located within the charming and historic borough of Greenwich, this covered market is a real gem. Running from Tuesday to Sunday, the market offers tasty food, arts and crafts all week, but try Tuesdays, Thursdays or Fridays for the antiques and collectables market, with antiques, 20th century items, decorative, restored and bespoke all on offer. A perfect slice of Englishness, Greenwich Market and its surroundings make a perfect daytrip from Central London.
Between bustling Liverpool Street and the delights of Brick Lane, this glass-covered market is a mix of shops, restaurants and a revolving assortment of stalls. Thursdays are a retro dream; expect to peruse old maps, charming wooden Victorian desks, vintage dolls, lovely lace, and well-loved leather satchels. Do remember to banter with the vendors, as a lot of the prices are negotiable. There are plenty of great restaurants here too, including Square Pie, Canteen and Leon. From Friday to Sunday you can also pick up freshly baked cakes and hot food to order.
Set within the grounds in one of Christopher’s Wren’s finest churches, come here on Mondays for the food market, Tuesdays for antiques and collectables, and Wednesday to Saturday for arts and crafts. A great place to find crafty bits or fashion from across Asia, there are some tasty little cafes in the area and plenty of leafy garden spots to grab a bench and enjoy. Set in the West End, Piccadilly Market tends to attract casual, smart shoppers rather than hard-core bargain hunters.